View this email in your browser
CPAMO's News

Welcome to the 28th Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario  (CPAMO) newsletter. This is a regular digest that will introduce you to, and keep you updated on CPAMO’s initiatives, and act as a portal to relevant research in the field of pluralism in the arts, innovative artists, and links to interesting talks about pluralism in the arts. The newsletter is intended to be your go-to resource for information on cultural pluralism in the arts.
You have received this e-mail because you are a member of the CPAMO listserv. Please let others who share our professional and artistic interests know about this listserv and encourage them to subscribe by visiting: . The listserv is moderated and is for sending out newsletters and CPAMO updates. You may unsubscribe at any time. 

What is CPAMO?

Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario (CPAMO) is a movement of Indigenous and ethno-racial artists working with presenters to empower the arts communities of Ontario. CPAMO seeks to open opportunities for Indigenous and ethno-racial artists to engage with presenters - in theatre, music, dance, visual arts - across Ontario and to enable presenters to develop constructive relationships with Indigenous and ethno-racial artists.
CPAMO is supported by Indigenous and ethno-racial artists who are involved in theatre, music, dance and literary arts. They are members of CPAMO’s Roundtable and include representatives of Sampradaya Dance, Nathaniel Dett Chorale, Little Pear Garden Theatre Collective, Centre for Indigenous Theatre, Kaha:wi Dance, Sparrow in the Room, b-current, why not theatre, urban arts and backforward collective, TeyyaPeya Productions, Culture Days, Sheyanne Productions, Obsidian Theatre, the Collective of Black Artists, CanAsian Dance and others.
With the involvement of artists from these organizations, CPAMO is working with Community Cultural Impresarios (CCI), Canadian Dance Assembly and their members to build their capacities, cultural competencies and understanding of pluralism in the arts so that these members engage artists from these communities and, thereby, enable audiences across Ontario to access artistic expressions from diverse communities on a regular basis.
CPAMO gratefully acknowledges the funding support it has received for its activities from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport.

Back to top 

Updates on 2015-16 Collaboration Workshops

The CPAMO provided series of workshops in the Greater Toronto Area that engaged in peer-to-peer sharing, sharing with performing arts venues (presenters) and collaborative learning circles. The sessions focused on the strategies to develop collaborative partnerships in the arts.

The resources CPAMO engaged were:
  1. Beatriz Pisano, Artistic Director, Aluna Theatre
  2. Ronnie Brown, Program Director, Oakville Centre for the Arts
  3. Eric Lariviere, General Manager, Flato Markham Theatre and Yvon Soglo, Bboyizm
  4. Kevin A. Ormsby, Artistic Director, KasheDance and CPAMO Program Manager
  5. Charmaine Headley, Co-Artistic Director, Collective of Black Artists (COBA)

CPAMO also coordinated three sessions in the Ottawa community to further discussion on collaborative projects and develop agreed upon actions for implementation in 2016-17.The partners CPAMO worked with in Ottawa are:  
  1. Victoria Steele, Arts Ottawa East
  2. Alicia Borisonik, World Folk Music Ottawa
  3. Eric Coates, Great Canadian Theatre Company
  4. Lyn McGuigan, Ottawa Little Theatre
  5. Audrey Churgin, MASC (Multicultural Arts in Schools and Communities)
  6. the Canadian Dance Assembly Pluralism Committee

This project provided opportunities to explore collaborative practice models that:
  • promote, develop, recognize and understand the artistic practices of Indigenous and ethno-racial communities;
  • enhance public access to diverse art forms and cultivate audiences from these communities;
  • advance professional development, networking, dialogue and knowledge-sharing amongst arts professionals from diverse communities;
  • strengthen connections between Indigenous and ethno-racial artists and the broader arts communities;
  • deepen intercultural understanding between Indigenous and ethno-racial artists, presenters, and, through this diverse communities, and 
  • incorporate innovative strategies and tools to achieve these objectives.

CPAMO began this project with peer-to-peer learning to demonstrate work already underway by Indigenous and ethno-racial arts organizations.  CPAMO invited two presenters to participate to illustrate the differences presenters take in approaching their projects and in connecting with their very different communities.

KasheDance and COBA – September 2015: KasheDance and COBA have been in dialogue about collaborative initiatives since COBA acquired its space at the Daniel’s Spectrum and KasheDance has been using the space for its rehearsals. There was one workshopwhich focused on the shared use of space where COBA would provide space to KasheDance which in exchange would help by volunteering at COBA events or sharing the artistic expertise of the dancers over the year. The dialogue between KasheDance and COBA will illustrate the importance of negotiating between peers and the time needed to arrive at mutually beneficial results.

Oakville Centre for the Arts – October 2015: Oakville Centre for the Arts has engaged several CPAMO Roundtable artists including  Kaha:wi Dance Theatre, Sampradaya Dance Creations, KasheDance and the wind in the leaves collective.  Similar to Flato Markham Theatre, the Oakville Centre for the Arts has collaborated with artists and local organizations to develop and implement community engagement activities and artist workshops.  This is the kind of collaboration that this full day session will focus on and it will address themes related to:  (i) negotiating the space and building a reciprocal relationship; (ii) program development, promotion and education on artists’ practice; and (iii) outreach and community engagement.

Aluna Theatre/PanAmerican Routes –  December 2015: Aluna’s work in Panamerican Rutas and Caminos has been highly successful in its engagement with artists from Indigenous and diverse backgrounds, bringing in diverse audiences and providing opportunities for critical dialogue on contemporary issues in the arts and society that promote pluralism and social justice.CPAMO invited Aluna Theatre’s Artistic Director, Beatriz Pisano, to conduct one workshopto unpack how Aluna Theatre developed, promoted, staged and received funding for this. This session focused on:   (i) negotiating the space and developing common themes;  (ii) program development and program promotion; (iii) audience development and engagement;  (iv) funding, including fundraising; and (v) follow-up and evaluation.

Flato Markham Theatre – February 2016: The increasing diversity of performances in Markham has been supported by the Theatre with various outreach, public education and community engagement activities.  For example, in 2013 before the Sampradaya Dance Creations performance of the Luminato-commissioned work TAJ, Flato Markham Theatre and CPAMO collaborated on an educational forum that attracted over 300 people to learn from the performers – actors, dancers, choreographers and musicians – about the story and how it was created.  This is the kind of collaboration that this session focused on to address themes related to:  (i) negotiating the space and building a reciprocal relationship; (ii) program development, promotion and education on artists’ practice; and (iii) outreach and community engagement.

Ottawa Workshops: CPAMO held three public sessions in Ottawa on January 25, May 9, and June 6, 2016 to further focus on the importance of, and opportunities for, collaborative practices to promote and sustain Indigenous and ethno-racial arts:

1) The January 25 speakers shared their experiences with collaborative programs involving artists working with Indigenous artists and artists with other abilities, and artists working with social service agencies.This session included presentations by Penny McCann: SAW Video Indigenous Curatorial Incubator program; Eric Coates: Project: Great Canadian Theatre Company (GCTC) and Propeller Dance – Unlikely Allies; Phyllis Novak: SKETCH with Audrey Churgin: MASC and 
Stacey Lauridsen: Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa.  Part of this event was a performance evening coordinated by MASC and featured the following artists: Jamaal Rogers, Yvon Soglo, Leo Brooks and Dominique Saint Pierre

2) On May 9CPAMO continued its focus on building awareness and commitment toward collaborative projects and this session explored the viability of a shared platform in the Ottawa arts community involving CARFAC National, MASC (Multicultural Arts in Schools and Communities), Coalition of New Canadians for Arts and Culture, Gallery 101, World Folk Music Ottawa, AOE, GCTC and individual artists such as Leah Snyder and Maria Gomez Umana.  This session was led by Jane Marsland.The second MASC Monday involved:Jon Olsen, Phil Jenkins and Dominique Saint Pierre

3) On June 6, CPAMO sponsored the Canadian Dance Assembly’s forum on Pluralism which was chaired and attended by CPAMO Ottawa members.  This National Roundtable on Pluralism in Dance was a bilingual event with simultaneous interpretation and focused on three topics:
a. Considering Language: The term “diversity” is increasingly being challenged in all sectors. How is this affecting the dance community?
b. Developing new practices and policies: How we can develop inclusive and responsive practices and policies, at all levels of our community?
c. Collaborative Models: More than ever there is a need for groups to come together and offer support, reduce duplication, and share resources. What does strategic partnership and collaboration look like?
The CDA’s Pluralism Committee shared three articles as resources.  These were:
  • Addressing bias in non-profit organizations and charities (From Charity Village) by Tana Turner April 16, 2014
  • DEFINITIONS (Excerpt from Independent Media Arts Alliance Cultural Diversity in the Media Arts’)
  • Excerpt from Thinking Collaboratively - Acting Collectively: Creating a Collaborative Learning Community for Indigenous and Ethno-Racial Artists in Ontario by Jane Marsland.
Following this June 6 session, the Ottawa arts organizations developed the Terms of Reference for the ongoing work to promote pluralism in Ottawa.  

Back to top

CPAMO Ottawa Network Terms of reference

Vision: Following years of meetings and forums to discuss issues and model activities to promote pluralism in the arts in Ottawa, local artists and groups collaborating with Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario (CPAMO) desire to formalize a local Network of CPAMO to engage Ottawa-based artists, arts organizations and Indigenous and diverse communities in promoting pluralism in the arts. 
Mission: CPAMO Ottawa Network (Network) is established to increase awareness of the presence and importance of pluralism in the arts for Indigenous and diverse artists, arts organizations, communities and audiences in the National Capital Region, and to provide a forum for sharing information and growing partnerships to support this.
Members of the Network believe that the arts are enriching, inspiring and play a catalytic role in the creative, emotional and intellectual lives of our shared communities. We further believe that joint efforts will increase opportunities for bringing meaningful and engaging arts experiences to all communities in this region, with a particular focus on engaging Indigenous, racialized and new immigrant artists and communities.
Ottawa-based arts organizations will participate in CPAMO’s Ottawa Network in order to:

1. Increase awareness in the local arts community through education on issues, strategies and initiatives that promote pluralism in the arts;

2. Provide/create inclusive opportunities for Ottawa’s cultural community, Indigenous and diverse arts organizations and artists to meet, get to know each other & each other’s organizations, share and encourage partnerships.  
Working collaboratively with CPAMO, the Network’s goal is to meet throughout the year and is supported by Ottawa arts organizations who will meet as required to plan meetings, seek member input and deal with other issues as they arise.   
Actions: To achieve the above, the Network will:

1. Raise awareness within the network of creative activities and endeavors in the region that reflect and promote the values of pluralism
2. Develop networking and education opportunities that involve a range of artists, arts organizations and community agencies to expand understanding of pluralism in Ottawa with the view of possibility developing work partnerships and collaborative practices
3. Search out, identify & cultivate partnerships with key allies & stakeholders of pluralism in the arts.
4. Seek to build capacity on pluralism in the arts through:
  • Exploring best practices in the areas of pluralism in the arts and program content, mentor the capacity of member groups.
  • Building a case to support sustainability of pluralism initiatives in Ottawa.
Membership: AOE, MASC, GCTC, Ottawa Little Theatre, Sarah, Maria Gomez Umana, Gallery 101

Back to top

The Learning Circles: November 2015 – June 2016

Those participating in the workshops were invited to join in a collaborative initiative and to join with others who had similar interests. These sessions have created the collaborative projects now in development stages and noted below.

1) Contemporary Aesthetics of Indigenous and Ethno-racial Arts Practices.  This CPAMO project involves established artists and arts organizations whose practices draw from Indigenous, South Asian and African diasporic perspectives.   Addressing sector-wide issues, this project will convene a series of public discussions in 2016 and 2017 regarding the aesthetic practices of these artists, i.e., their traditions, histories, artistic forms, modes of training, their importance to the arts in Toronto and how these are contemporary and shaping/leading the emergence of Canadian art and culture in the 21st century. To this end, CPAMO has developed three collaborative working groups:

a) Indigenous arts organizations and artists:
  • Native Earth Performing Arts, Ryan Cunningham, Artistic Director
  • ANDPVA, Millie Knapp, Executive Director
  • Shannon Thunderbird, Elder, Artist Educator, Story-teller
  • Aria Evans, Dancer/Choreographer, Videographer
  • Gein Wong, Multidisciplinary artists, Toronto Arts Council Cultural Leader (2015-16) and Toronto Arts Council Board Member
b) South Asian artists:
  • Bagashree Vaze, dancer, choreographer, musician
  • nisha ahuja, writer, dramatist
  • Brandy Leary, choreographer, dancer, aerial artist, Toronto Arts Council Cultural Arts Leader (2016-17)
  • Soraya Peerbaye, writer
  • Lata Pada and Suma Nair, Sampradaya Dance 
c) African diasporic arts organizations and artists
  • Vivinne Scarlet, danceImmersion, artistic director
  • Sedina Fiati - performer/creator, ACTRA & CAEA Councillor
  • Newton Moraes, dancer/choreographer
  • Whitney French, writer, spoken word 
  • Roshanak Jaberi, dancer/choreographer
2) Collaboration to Engage Schools, Presenters and Communities to Participate in Live Performances is a project led by CPAMO working in collaboration with North York Arts, the Arts and Letters Club, Prologue to the Performing Arts, Ontario Presents/Community Cultural Impresarios, Oakville Centre for the Arts and Flato Markham Theatre. Each of these organizations share a common mandate: to make live performances accessible to all communities.  In activities to implement this shared mandate, each partner has come to realize increasing evidence of the lack of access to live performances starting in local schools and communities for children and youth and how this impacts on adults’ access to live performances on main stages. This project will enable this collaborative partnership to engage schools, community centres, presenter venues and Toronto-based Indigenous and ethno-racial artists in community engagement activities aimed at making live performances available to children and youth in under-served communities and, through this, building a foundation for these children and youth to actively participate in live performances throughout their lives.  

3) Pluralism and Equity Education and Training.  This project involves Ontario Presents, Ochestras Canada,, Theatre Ontario, Prologue to the Performing Arts, CARFAC Ontario, Playwrights Guild of Canada, Theatre Ontario, Canadian Dance Assembly, Dancer Transition Resource Centre, CanDance Network, Media Arts Network Ontario, Work in Culture and Ontario Association of Art Galleries.  It’s purpose is to develop an education and training program for artists and arts administrators who want to learn more about embedding the values and practices of equity and pluralism into their day-to-day operations.  Through this project, CPAMO will work with the collaborative partners to (i) identify the needs for this program; (ii) develop a core and flexible curriculum that will address such issues as diversifying Board/volunteers/membership, developing strategic and/or annual plans, diversifying resources (artists, speakers, etc).

4) Collaborate Collaborate Collaborate. In Ottawa, CPAMO will continue its focus on building awareness and commitment toward collaborative projects and to set-up a collaborative planning group in the Ottawa arts community. CPAMO will continue to work with its local Ottawa partners, i.e., CARFAC National, MASC (Multicultural Arts in Schools and Communities),  AOE Arts Council, Great Canadian Theatre Company, World Folk Music Ottawa, Ottawa Little Theatre and individual artists such as Dipna Horra, Leah Snyder, Maria Gomez Umana, Natasha Bakht.  This work will build on momentum built when these organizations have been in several sessions exploring what is happening with collaborative practices within the Ottawa arts community and how this group might engage in one.

Back to top

NASO Updates

The annual meeting between Canada Council for the Arts (CCA) and the National Arts Services Organizations (NASOs) was held on Thursday and Friday, February 18 and 19, 2016.  The meeting was held in the winter since there was the federal election held in the previous October, the month when this meeting has been traditionally held.

Coordinated by a group of NASOs and administered by Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario (CPAMO), this gathering was also qualitatively different than previous meetings.  This was attributable to:
  • CCA no longer played a role in the coordination and administration of the annual meeting;
  • A Coordinating Committee comprised of diverse NASOs was empowered to develop the agenda for the annual meeting;
  • Several members of the Coordinating Committee were called upon to be resources for workshops held during the gathering;
  • With the approval of the Coordinating Committee, an arts services organization, CPAMO, took on the administration of the annual meeting instead of CCA staff.
Based on this, the Coordinating Committee put forward several recommendations to guide the follow-up to the February 18-19, 2016 meeting and to build on the aforementioned relationships. These recommendations are that:

1. the transition period noted by CCA (2016-2018) be used to convene annual meetings between CCA and NASOs as coordinated by the NASO Coordinating Committee in consultation with CCA and administered by CPAMO and that the next meeting be held on October 23 and 24, 2016 with subsequent meetings held in October 2017 and 2018;

2. the CCA provide the financial support for the administration of the October 2016 meeting and commit to funding the annual meetings for 2017 and 2018 with funding based on the actuals for the February 2016 meeting;

3. the upcoming meetings between CCA and the NASOs continue the process of partnership between CCA and NASOs and amongst NASOs.  To develop this approach, the Coordinating Committee invite NASOs to share their initiatives – e.g., research, strategic initiatives, special projects, etc. – to be compiled and shared with NASOs and CCA and that CCA provide the same in terms of matters that affect the field in which NASOs work and that both of these exchanges are focused on the CCA New Funding Model and its implications;

4. the recommendations in the attached Consultant’s report be considered as the starting point for developing the agenda for the NASO-CCA annual meeting in October 2016;

5. the CCA provide a clear definition and methodology on its approach to diversity, equity and inclusion and how this will directly impact NASOs, particularly those emerging from the communities discussed at the February 2016 meeting, i.e., women, the deaf, disabled and mad, Official Language Minorities, Indigenous and racialized peoples;

6. to prepare for the 2018 meeting between NASOs and the CCA, in addition to the funding noted in #2 and the focus noted in #3, that the CCA provide $10,000 for the Coordinating Committee to contract a consultant in consultation with CCA to prepare a report on the role and functions of NASOs in the new CCA funding model and the format for the ongoing relationship between CCA and the NASOs, particularly related to the themes put forward in the February 2016 meeting related to partnerships and the CCA New Funding Model.

The Coordinating Committee received the following response from Canada Council: 

HI Charles,
Thank you for the final report and the followups.  The meeting was well organized and your team was quite efficient. Thank you for your collaboration. 
The Council really believes in the role of NASOs to support their communities, to represent their members and to advance strategic discussions. We wish to maintain an open dialogue with NASOs, exchange information and further explore with NASOs how better to serve our communities. The relationship between Council and NASOs will continue to evolve and the New Funding Model is a good opportunity to better define this relationship future forward.
This being said, the Council cannot commit to a meeting this October 2016. With the launch of the New Funding Model and the new portal opening in December, as well as the internal restructuring to align with these developments, the Council must postpone many activities that normally take place during the fall. We also believe that the next meeting should follow after the release of information on the new programs in December  in order to have a more current and more useful context for discussion.
Therefore, we propose that the next meeting at the beginning of February 2017 by which time all participants will have had sufficient time to explore the new portal and gather feedback from their membership.
Also, I would like to inform you that I will no longer be the contact with NASO, as I am now in charge of the New Chapter program. My colleague Claude Schryer will be the new contact person. He email is and his phone extension is 4204.   Claude will contact you shortly to follow up on this email on behalf of the Arts Granting Division Director General Jacques Vezina.
I wish you all the best with all your projects.

The NASO Coordinating Committee will work with Council to establish the next exchanges.  At this stage, this will likely be in the form of a webinar sometime in February 2017 and a full gathering in October 2017.  

As the Coordinating Committee prepares for these, we wish to thank Emmanuel Madan of Independent Media Arts Alliance for his work with us over the past year.  We would also like to welcome new members: Meghan Hila of Choral Canada, Susan Urquhart of CAPACOA and Anne Bertrand of ARCCA.

The report on this meeting has now gone out and you can download a copy in English and in French

Back to top

The Gathering

In “The Gathering: Arts Organizations Promoting Pluralism” was a town hall and symposium organized by CPAMO at the Arts and Letters Club on May 11 12. The symposium invited participants to address the issue of equity and pluralism in the arts and engage in an exciting opportunity for arts organizations and activists to share their thoughts and concerns about the development of arts practices and an arts ecology that embeds the values of pluralism into their work.

The objective for our May 11 and 12 event wasto facilitate conversation between arts organizations dedicated to pluralism and to take temperature of the field, understand barriers and compile recommendations for systemic change. 

Held at the Arts and Letters Club, The Gathering began with an evening of performances and then engaged those assembled in opportunities through plenary and small group discussions.  This is a significant event in that it will be a first – while CPAMO has been around since 2010 and we have held many Town Halls, this is the first time that we will be gathering fellow practitioners for information sharing with the aim to learn from each other and perhaps share strategies on how we might work together.

The agenda for these two days was:

Wednesday May 11 – 5:30 – 9:30 p.m.
  • Greetings by CPAMO Board Chair, John Ryerson
  • Land Acknowledgement and Presentations by Cole Alvis (Indigenous Performing Arts Alliance) and Clayton Windatt (Aboriginal Curatorial Collective)
  • Greetings by Councillor John Filion, City of Toronto Arts Advocate
  • Performance by Victoria Mata, and, Waleed Abdulhamid

Thursday May 12 – 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Presentations were made by:Jacoba Knaapen (Toronto Association of Performing Arts); Robert Sauvey (Dance Umbrella of Ontario); Patty Jarvis (Prologue To The Performing Arts); Kate Cornell (Canadian Dance Assembly); Rebecca Burton (Playwrights Guild Equity in Theatre); Zainub Verjee and Crystal Meliville (Ontario Association of Art Galleries).  Phyllis Novak (SKETCH);Victoria Mata (Latino Artists).. Marjorie Chan (Cahoots Theatre); Mimi Beck (CanDance Network). Banoo Zan (Organizer of Shab-e She'r - Poetry Night); Sedina Fiati (ACTRA Diversity Committee); Kvesche Bijons (Researcher). Ely Rosenblum, North York Arts; Sara Meurling, (Professional Association of Canadian Theatre); Ben Donahue (Media Arts Network Ontario). 

Performance were provided by Ronald Taylor, Yui Ugai and Shula Strassfeld and poet/spoken word artists founder of ‘Writing While Black’ Whitney French. 

Back to top 

Interview with Zainub Verjee

CPAMO: What’s your current position? How long have you been in this position? 

Zainub Verjee: I am the Executive Director and have been with Ontario Association of Art Galleries (OAAG) a little over a year. It is a small scale organization with a large mandate serving 116 Public Art galleries in 61 communities in Ontario. 

CPAMO: What is your vision for OAAG?
ZV: My vision is to grow the organization and build its capacity to deliver its mandate and mission on its three pillars of service of advocacy, capacity building and network building. This includes furthering OAAG’s critical role in leading advocacy and providing intelligence for policy and capacity building for its stakeholders, offering opportunities and sites for increased exchange of resources, expertise and learning, strengthening the network by identifying synergies in allied sectors through partnerships.

CPAMO: Can you give me a brief overview of your career?

ZV: I am an accomplished leader in the art, culture and heritage sector, with experience in leading and managing contemporary art centres, cultural agencies, cultural institutions and cultural departments. Over three decades, in my role of advocating arts to governments, not-for-profit sector, private sector and the general public. I have been successful in managing relationships and influencing politicians, bureaucrats and the members of public to recognize the centrality of arts in society. In the 1990s, I was invited to sit on the B.C. Arts Board that led to legislation of Bill 12 Arts Council Act in the 35th parliament session and subsequent formation of the B.C. Arts Council. At the same time, I was engaged by Gordon Campbell, Canadian diplomat and the 35th Mayor of Vancouver on his landmark Vancouver Arts Initiative. This decade also marked in my appointment as the Executive Director of Western Front Society, as the first woman of colour heading an international contemporary art institution in Canada!

Later I worked as Senior Policy Adviser in Department of Canadian Heritage, Canada Council for the Arts, and as the founding Director of the Culture Division of City of Mississauga, developing its first Cultural Master Plan. 

CPAMO: Did you have any key mentors or people who meaningfully influenced your career, what you believe in and what you are committed to in your work and life?

ZV: Mentoring is central to professional life in the culture sector. Today, I am happy to see individuals, whom I have mentored over my long career, holding positions of influence and contributing substantially to the Culture sector across this country. Over three decades of my professional life, I have been influenced by key ideas that presented themselves as moments, institutions and individuals. Let me give you some examples. 

In 1977, as a young new immigrant and graduate student at Simon Fraser University, I was in a theatre production in Matsqui Prison, part of a venerable rehabilitation program that was started by the legendary Leon Pownall, who directed an unforgettable behind-bars production of Threepenny Opera. Pownall pioneered Institutional Theatre Productions (ITP), and by the late 1980s, I witnessed convict Ron Sauvé after his release from prison taking over as Artistic Director, directing many productions as well as continuing to act. Ron Sauvé, with whom I acted in 1977, took ITP with him into the mainstream, with the mandate of helping inmates and ex-inmates explore the complexities of theatre, including the works of French dramatist Jean Genet and Brazilian Augusto Boal. This was my introduction to the transformational power of Arts and Culture and marked the beginning of my Canadian journey advocating for the critical and central role of Art and Culture in our society.

Similarly, two of my close and decades-long associations: one, Dr. Shirley L. Thomson, former chair of the National Art Gallery, the former director of the Canada Council of the Arts and later the chair of Canadian Cultural Property Export Review Board, and two, Dr. Sara Diamond, President of OCADU, were very influential in understanding the idea of risk in Culture and advocacy of Arts as public good.  And lastly, the institution of Western Front, of which I was the executive director in the early 90s helped me understand the value of art, and what it means in the quotidian sense, to put it simply.

Since I come from England, I had an association with the British Black Arts Movement post 1980s Brixton Riots, that shared similar impulses to that in US, responding to the period of Thatcherism. Institutions like Black Audio Film Collection, Sankofa collective, IniVA and people like Stuart Hall, Kobena Mercer, Keith Piper, Isaac Julian, Sonia Boyce, Rasheed Aareen, Sarat Maharaj and many others offered a way to engage with the State through activism to fight for rights and equality. 

In fact, today it's a déjà vu given the ascendancy of Black Lives Matter here in Canada, and broadly North America, as I reflect on Lord Scarman’s report on the violence of the 1980s in the inner urban areas in the UK, and the 62.3% cut by Arts Council of England in 2015 on funding IniVA, which was one of the institutional product of the times!

CPAMO: What advice can you give for emerging cultural administrators?

ZV: Right at the outset, to be a Cultural administrator one has to understand that it is not a homogenous domain. On the contrary, the field is very heterogeneous and demands a disparate set of skills sets and competencies. Depending on the scale and mandate of the organization, the demand will range from that of a generalist to specialist. All cultural organizations have histories and nuanced contexts, that they are products of particular times. An artists-run-centre will differ from a public art gallery as will it vary from say a municipal culture department or a public museum. The future will demand a complex array of skills and an entrepreneurial temperament as the stakeholder interests as well as demands will be different as the ecosystem will be driven by technology and nature of audience. 

CPAMO: What trends and changes in the cultural sector have you noticed in the last few years?

ZV: The culture sector has been completely co-opted into the neoliberal instrumentality of public policy. Today broadly, it resonates a service industry! Festivalization of Culture sends a mixed message from a public policy perspective. O fcourse, there are multiple drivers –– demographics, digital technology, culture as public good––that have impacted the culture sector over the last decade. We are still functioning with the ideas of the 1980s. Largely, the absence of a coherent cultural policy is the biggest gap. The recent announcement by Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly conflates broadcasting policy and cultural policy! Pervasive and ubiquitous digital technology has clearly impacted how culture is produced and consumed. It is defining the very audience and their morphing behavior in relation to arts.

CPAMO: What do you think will change in the cultural sector over the next five years?

ZV: We are living in a very complex times where old narratives are re-emerging in a newer context offering immensely complicated challenges: climate change actions; terrorism and war; epidemiology and public health; increased mobility (migrations and refugees); pervasive digital technology and existence of four generations at the same time in history. How can we think through such complex times and issues? Are we to reimagine the old answers to new questions or offer something new and original?

One key fact is that Culture sector will see a substantial overhaul as it will soon be data driven. This will have an impact on multiple fronts ranging from advocacy, production, dissemination, administration and above all the very sustainability of the idea of culture as public good.

However, there is an urgency on two fronts. One is to ensure next generation leadership is in place and two, diversity in the leadership. 

CPAMO: What might surprise someone to know about you?

ZV: One of the surprises could be that I am an artist, curator and programmer. My works have been shown at MoMA (New York) and Venice Biennale and are in various public and private collections.

In the tumultuous times of the 1980s and 1990s, I have been in the thick of Constitutional reform processes as much as the height of the racial identity politics and the growing impact of the fermenting international trade regimes that forebode challenges to global cultural diversity.  I co-founded and co-directed, InVisibleColours (1987–1989), a film and video festival and symposium and school education program, bringing women of colour from 27 countries and showcasing over 100 works.

In 1991, in the context of the twin failures of the Meech Lake  and Charlottetown Accords, I worked closely with the late Senator Laurier LaPierre on the Citizen’s Forum on Canada’s Future.  During the national debate on Canada’s constitutional arrangement, as the Citizen’s Forum Official Moderator for Vancouver, I facilitated numerous public consultations.  Similarly, when the Canadian Race Relations Foundation Act 1991, part of the Japanese Canadian Redress Agreement, I was working with the historically significant settlement of the Japanese community in Vancouver located around Powell Street (Japan Town).  I aligned myself closely with the Japanese community through my work on the Board of the Powell Street (Japan Town) Festival in Vancouver. 

At the same time, I was aware of the Stephen Lewis Report on Yonge Street Riots of 1992 leading to the short lived Ontario Anti-Racism Secretariat and began furthering my interventionist advocacy work creating alliances between the communities of colour, black, first nations and LGBTQ. One such manifestation of my work was in the decade long movement in 1990s of anti-racism, progressive left movements, AIDS Activism, Lesbian Gay rights leading to Toronto based Desh-Pardesh festival and subsequent institutionalization of a space for Cultural production for people of colour. My advocacy work will continue as there is an eruption of the concerns of Anti-Racism as seen in the Black Lives Matter and Islamophobia and growing need for institutional responses, including the recent reincarnation of the Ontario Anti-Racism Secretariat. Despite the status of Women Legislation (1970), through my active engagement with the established alliances, I bore witness to sex workers disappearing from Vancouver in 1990s, as another chapter unfolded in the national tragedy of missing and murdered indigenous women (MMIW) highlighting the vulnerability of women to extreme violence. The Strawberry ceremony and rally are important moments of solidarity for MMIW for my work.

Back to top 

CPAMO Receives Operating Grants and New Board Members

Now a registered not-for-profit arts organization, CPAMO has received its second year of operating funding from the Ontario Arts Council’s ASO Operating Grants Program.  

CPAMO has recruited two new board members to work with our team.  These are:

•    visual artist Astrid Ho; and
•    arts activist and organizer Perry Voulgaris

While we welcome these new board members, we also say farewell to Tina Chu, one of our founding board members.

Back to top 


The Tenth Annual Manifesto Festival Of Community & Culture
September 9 - September 18, 2016

10 years ago a group of artists, activists and creatives got together to talk about a big idea. A major festival, built by young people, to unite, inspire and empower our own through arts and culture. To bring together the collective brilliance from across the city to break bread, break beats and break new ground. We asked Toronto to stand up. Just look at us now. Keep shining family. Join us as we celebrate 10 years at your service. Welcome to Manifesto 10.

For more information: or

September Movie Night: Miss Hokusai
September 15, 2016 7:00 pm
Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre 
6 Garamond Ct. Toronto, ON M3C 1Z5

Keiichi Hara’s extraordinary animated film tells the story of O-Ei, the little-known daughter of the famed ukiyo-e artist Hokusai, creator of some of Japan’s most iconic images. An outspoken 23-year-old and the inheritor of her father’s artistic gifts and stubbornness, she shares his home, and serves as his assistant, often completing or redoing works for him. Unsophisticated, naïve, and fearless, she tugs insistently at the bridle of Edo tradition and propriety, showing her gentle side only.

O-Ei’s story has also been told in Canadian author Katherine Govier’s excellent novel, The Ghost Brush. Ms Govier will introduce the screening with a reading from her novel and a discussion of O-ei’s life.when caring for her blind sister O-Nao. Miss Hokusai is mature, unsentimental and startlingly beautiful. Lovers of Japanese traditional culture and anime fans alike will find much to enjoy. Winner of the Satoshi Kon Award for best animated feature film at Montreal’s 2015 Fantasia International Film Festival. Voiced by An Watanabe and Yutaka Matsushige.

Admission: Free Screening (donations gratefully accepted)

The Other Face
September 16-18, 2016 | Opening reception: 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm 
Areej Art Gallery 
2640 Danforth Avenue, Toronto ON

Areej Art Gallery  is proud to present the works of several diverse visual artists of Middle Eastern and African descent. Exhibit Hours: Weekdays 10:00 am-6:00 pm and Weekends 12:00 pm - 6:00 pm. For more information: 

Dance Migration - GAIA
Friday, September 16 – Sunday, September 18, 2016
Harbourfront Centre Theatre
231 Queens Quay West, Toronto ON

Diving deep beneath the surface, Dance Migration pushes the boundaries of Brazilian samba.
Choreographed and produced by artistic director Adrianna Yanuziello, Gaia is a story about the female experience told through the bodies of five powerful dancers.

Inspired by the works of Brazilian choreographers Irineu Nogueira and Rosangela Silvestre comes forth a journey of self-discovery, self-acceptance, and self-love. It's the story about breaking the person we're told we're supposed to be and finding the courage to stand in who we are.

The show features a live musical cast of brilliant musicians with arrangements by Brazilian artist Alysson Bruno. Featuring Juno-nominated vocalist and drummer Aline Morales and Juno-nominated bassist Rich Brown. For more information about Dance Migration: 

Admission: Regular: $28 | Student/Senior/Groups 10+: $23
Purchase tickets online. 

September 27 - October 29, 2016
A Space gallery
110-401 Richmond Street West, Toronto, Ontario M5V 3A8 
Gallery Hours: Tuesday to Friday 11am - 5pm | Saturday 12pm - 5pm

Essay by Fiona P. McDonald | The exhibition is proudly presented by A Space Gallery and imagineNATIVE | The publication is proudly presented by A Space Gallery, imagineNATIVE & VTape.

In their Canadian exhibition premiere, partners and creative collaborators Rona Ngahuia Osborne and Dan Mace present three video works connected by wairua, a Maori word for “spirit” or “soul.” Wairua also refers to universal energy, which is a thread evident in the videos presented, each of which utilize abstract personification and sound to explore the Earth (the four triptych piece Elemental), the stars (the seven monitor work Whetūrangi), and human ritual (Te Taki, which welcomes visitors into the gallery with a challenge and an invitation to communicate).

For more information:

RUTAS Panamericanas
October 5 – 16, 2016
Aki Studio | Daniels Spectrum
585 Dundas Street East # 250, Toronto, ON

Produced by Aluna Theatre in partnership with Native Earth Performing Arts.

From reinventions of European classics like Antigona, Hamlet, Othello, and Life is a Dream – to innovative ritualistic and physical theatre – artists from Colombia, Bolivia, New York, New Zealand, Haiti, Venezuela, Argentina, and Switzerland challenge how we frame our understanding of each other and our histories.

Showcasing Canadian, Indigenous, and Latin American artists, the Festival features performances, master classes, cabarets, concerts, film, art exhibits and a multi-day conference on issues arising from the artistic programming.

For more information, schedule and tickets:

Back to top

Ted Talks

Sanford Biggers: An artist's unflinching look at racial violence
Conceptual artist and TED Fellow Sanford Biggers uses painting, sculpture, video and performance to spark challenging conversations about the history and trauma of black America. Join him as he details two compelling works and shares the motivation behind his art. "Only through more thoughtful dialogue about history and race can we evolve as individuals and society," Biggers says.

About the speaker: An LA native working in NYC, Sanford Biggers creates artworks that integrate film, video, installation, sculpture, drawing, original music and performance. He intentionally complicates issues such as hip hop, Buddhism, politics, identity and art history in order to offer new perspectives and associations for established symbols. Through a multi-disciplinary formal process and a syncretic creative approach, he makes works that are as aesthetically pleasing as they are conceptual.

Biggers is Assistant Professor at Columbia University's Visual Arts program and a board member of Sculpture Center, Soho House and the CUE Foundation. He has also taught at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Sculpture and Expanded Media program and was a visiting scholar at Harvard University's VES Department in 2009. Link for full bio.


Angélica Dass: The beauty of human skin in every color
Angélica Dass's photography challenges how we think about skin color and ethnic identity. In this personal talk, hear about the inspiration behind her portrait project, Humanæ, and her pursuit to document humanity's true colors rather than the untrue white, red, black and yellow associated with race. 

About the speaker: As a member of a multi­racial family, Brazilian artist Angélica Dass is acutely aware of how small differences in skin tone can swell into large misconceptions and stereotypes about race.

In her ongoing project Humanæ, Dass pairs thousands of portraits of people from diverse parts of the world with their Pantone codes, revealing that our racially­ charged skin color labels --­­ red, white, brown --­­ as not only inaccurate but also absurd. Instead, she shows us that "these colors make us see each other as different, even though we are equal."


Elise Roy: When we design for disability, we all benefit
"I believe that losing my hearing was one of the greatest gifts I've ever received," says Elise Roy. As a disability rights lawyer and design thinker, she knows that being Deaf gives her a unique way of experiencing and reframing the world — a perspective that could solve some of our largest problems. As she says: "When we design for disability first, you often stumble upon solutions that are better than those when we design for the norm."

About the speaker: Deaf from the age of ten, Elise Roy has been a design thinker from early on, constantly adapting her environment and its tools to serve her extraordinary abilities.  A Division I athlete in both soccer and lacrosse, Roy participated in the Olympic Development Program for soccer. In the classroom, she learned how to teach herself from books. At Brown University, Roy was recognized as one of the nation's elite soccer goalkeepers. She also began to see herself as an advocate for people with non-normative abilities. During her freshman year, the University tried to take away real time captioning, a cross between closed captions that you see on television and a courtroom stenographer, enabling her to hear and participate in the classroom for the first time. After organizing the other Deaf students at the University and meeting with several deans, Roy was able to secure the real time captioning for the remainder of her time at Brown. Link for full bio.


Back to top

Contact Us

charles c. smith, Executive Director
Lecturer, Cultural Pluralism and the Arts/University of Toronto Scarborough
Kevin A. Ormsby, Program Manager

Victoria Glizer, Program Assistant
Mailing Address:473 Jones Avenue, Toronto, ON M4J 3G7
Phone: 416-686-3039

Back to top
Copyright © 2016 Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario (CPAMO), All rights reserved.

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences 

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp